September 12 2002
Food aid for families in Malawi
12/09/2002 - Feeding the population is getting more and more difficult in large parts of Malawi, just like in many other countries of Southern Africa. Therefore SOS Children's Villages have decided to extend an already existing emergency relief programme for children in need and their families. About 800 households, i.e. around 4,400 people, will be regularly supplied with food by the SOS Medical Center and the SOS Social Center located in Lilongwe over a period of seven months.
The densely populated areas situated in Central Malawi and the south of the country are severely hit by a drought going on for the second consecutive year. In the surroundings of the capital Lilongwe, lack of food amounted to almost 30% in July and is still on the rise. Maize, which constitutes the most important basic food, has to be bought at a high price going beyond the means of many families.
Two facilities will be responsible for carrying out the food aid programme launched by SOS Children's Villages: the SOS Medical Center and the SOS Social Center in Lilongwe. Both facilities are focusing their social services on the community and have already carried out extensive outreach programmes.
Apart from every-day medical routine work and a rehabilitation project for handicapped children, the SOS Medical Center has been providing in particular children under the age of five with food on a regular basis, in cooperation with the national representation of the United Nations World Food Programme. By expanding these food supplies, 300 households in the vicinity of this well-established medical center are to be provided.
Since the beginning of this year the SOS Social Center has been coordinating an AIDS relief programme for the surrounding communities. Volunteers and social workers help take care of children and families, whether indirectly affected by AIDS or HIV infected themselves, within their family home, providing psycho-social, medical, and material support. 330 families living in seven communities will receive daily support through this programme. These families are either headed by children or grandparents. The existing programme will be intensified and an extension of this relief programme to further households is being prepared. In those seven communities where SOS Children's Villages Malawi has already set up an extensive network with the help of the local population, volunteers will hand out basic food, such as maize, beans, salt, cooking oil, and sugar, at distribution centers on a regular basis.
In this way, about 4,400 people living in 800 households are to be provided with the bare necessities for survival. The main goal will be families whose existence is threatened by the effects of AIDS. This SOS emergency relief programme is planned to last for seven months until hopefully the next harvest ensures the supply with food of thousands of families.
Involvement of SOS Children's Villages in Malawi started in 1991 upon signing of a government agreement. In the meantime two SOS Children's Villages (in Lilongwe and in Mzuzu, which will be inaugurated on October 2), one SOS youth facility, two kindergartens, two SOS Hermann Gmeiner Schools, a Medical Center, and an SOS Social Center have been established.